What You Should Know
Cortinarius purpurascens is an edible basidiomycete mushroom of the genus Cortinarius. The fruit bodies grow in groups on the ground in coniferous forests, throughout the temperate zone of the Northern Hemisphere, including Europe and North America.
This mushroom is one of several purplish webcaps that are difficult to separate on macroscopic characters. In Britain, it fruits in broadleaf woodlands mainly with oak and beech, but in North America, this species (or its doppelganger) is recorded from coniferous forests.
Although it has been recorded as edible, this mushroom is best regarded as 'suspect' because many very similar webcaps contain dangerous toxins - hence it should not be gathered for eating. Some reddish-brown Cortinarius mushrooms with which the Blushing Webcap could perhaps be confused contain the toxin orellanine, which if eaten destroys human kidneys and liver.
Other names: Bruising Webcap.
Cortinarius purpurascens Mushroom Identification
Has a lilac/purple fibrillose cap that turns brown with age although the cap can appear brown when young.
When young the gills are covered by a spider web like structure called a cortina which soon breaks up and can be completely absent on older mushrooms, under the cortina the gills are fairly thick and not very crowded and start lilac/purple turning to orange/brown when covered in spores.
Cortina / Veil
The cortina starts almost white to lilac but becomes orange/brown when covered in spores.
The stem has a swollen base and is lilac to purple. When older the stem usually has an orange band around it caused by the spores sticking to what is left of the cortina where it was joined to the stem.
Has a thick bulbous base when very young, as shown, but the base does not increase much in size as the rest of the mushrooms grow from it but older mushrooms usually still have a swollen base.
The flesh starts white to lilac but can bruise to darker or brown when the flesh is exposed for a short time.
Deciduous or mixed woodland.
Rusty orange/brown. Ellipsoid to almond-shaped.
Other purple Cortinarius spp, especially C. violaceus, which is deep purple. Wood Blewit Clitocybe nuda, which has a cap edge that rolls under and is common.
Cortinarius purpurascens Taxonomy and Etymology
When the great Swedish mycologist Elias Magnus Fries described this mushroom in 1818, he gave it the binomial name Agaricus purpurascens. Twenty years later, in his Epicrisis Systematis Mycologici of 1838, Fries transferred this species to the genus Cortinarius, establishing its currently-accepted scientific name Cortinarius purpurascens.
Synonyms of Cortinarius purpurascens include Agaricus purpurascens Fr., Cortinarius purpurascens var. largusoides Cetto, and Phlegmacium purpurascens (Fr.) Ricken.
The generic name Cortinarius is a reference to the partial veil or cortina (meaning a curtain) that covers the gills when caps are immature. In the genus Cortinarius most species produce partial veils in the form of a fine web of radial fibres connecting the stem to the rim of the cap rather than a solid membrane.
The specific epithet purpurascens indicates that the flesh of this mushroom turns purple, and indeed so it does when its stem or its cap is bruised.
Photo 1 - Author: Cortinarius_purpurascens_65102.jpg: Irene Anderssonderivative work: Ak ccm (Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported)
Photo 2 - Author: Sui-setz (Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International)
Photo 3 - Author: Σ64 (Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported)
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